For a few years now, we’ve been hearing “4K’s overkill. You can’t tell the difference over 1080p!”. Lately, we’ve been hearing the same about 8K over both 4K and 1080p. But can you really tell the difference between 8K and 1080p?
That’s the topic Matti Haapoja explores in this video, which begins with a sequence shot using a mix of 1080p and 8K footage. (Shot on the Canon EOS R5). Obviously, there are no resolution labels on anything. Can you see the difference between them? Does it matter if you enable 4K resolution on Netflix?
Do higher resolutions matter?
Matti watched the final edited video himself on multiple screens. Those included a 3K 16″ MacBook Pro, a 32″ Apple 6K XDR monitor, and the 4K LG CX 65″ OLED TV. Those are all high-definition screens. Interestingly, he said that he could tell the difference between certain clips. He could also tell which were higher and which were lower resolution. Of course, he does have the benefit of knowing which is which already, given that he edited it.
But I watched the clips above, too, in both 1080p resolution (full HD) on an HP LP2475w IPS monitor and on a 4K 48″ LG TV (UHD). Well, I could definitely see differences in the detail there, too. Some of the differences were actually quite obvious. Later on in the video, Matti reveals what resolution each of the clips were shot in. Then, it gets clearer why some were more noticeable than others.
720p vs 1080p vs 4K vs 8K (ultra HD)
Plot twist. This video isn’t just an 8K vs 1080p comparison. Matti also mixed in some 720p footage shot by the Canon EOS R as well as 4K footage to see how each of them stood up to the other resolutions. This was also a good way to test if 4K resolution leans more towards 8K or 1080p in terms of absolute detail. What I found most interesting was that there seemed to be a greater difference between 8K and 4K than there was between 4K and 1080p. However, Matti admits that the 4K footage he shot wasn’t necessarily at the highest quality setting. And this is expected, high dynamic range (HDR), frame rate, and other factors all impact our viewing experience.
Image quality perseption
If you’re watching on a tiny little smartphone, then chances are they’ll all look pretty much the same. But if you’re sitting back in your living room watching on the big screen… Well, do you see the difference in the footage? This is because it’s not only the number of pixels that matters but also how dense they are. Were your guesses correct when the big reveal came?
My take on 1080p vs 4K
Yes, 4K has more resolution than 1080p. Four times the pixel count, to be precise. Does this have an impact on your viewing experience? Well, it depends on several factors. What is the screen size of your device? What is your viewing distance? What is the video quality that you are using? If you are using a larger screen, you will definitely feel the difference.
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that it depends on your screen size, viewing distance, video quality, and a few other factors. For big-screen TVs, the answer is probably yes.
100% yes! Most of the videos you are watching are shot in 1080p. In fact, availability-wise, there are probably more 1080 videos than 4k videos. That aside, any content designed for phone consumption should be OK with 1080p. In fact, Instagram’s reels are limited to 1080p. Even modern gaming consoles like the Xbox Series X will upscale any older games from 1080p.
Your viewing resolution is limited by the resolution of your TV. The only reason to buy a 4K streamer is future-proofing.
P.S. A word about naming: If you think that 720p and 1080p are not trivial names, I’ll fix it :). The standard name comes from the number of vertical pixels in the video. 720p has 1280 horizontal pixels, and 1080p has 1920 horizontal pixels. 4K and 8K are multiplications of full HD resolution. A 4K frame contains 4 1080p (or FHD) frames.